I hate the term “one hit wonder.” After all, one hit is one hit more than the vast majority of people will ever have. That said, there are in every field creators whose output has been lamentably small, people from whom one wishes more material had emerged. This is as true for science fiction and fantasy as any other field. Here are five authors on my “more, please” list.
To my knowledge, Raphael Carter has published two pieces of fiction. One was the remarkable post-cyberpunk novel, The Fortunate Fall (1996), and one short story, Tiptree winner “Congenital Agenesis of Gender Ideation” (1998), which takes an unexpected twist on gender. The novel has been out of print for decades and the short story was last collected thirteen years ago, but both are well worth tracking down. Where there is life, there is hope; Carter is still with us and so one can reasonably hope some new issue of Locus will reveal an upcoming Carter novel.
In addition to a handful of short works, Andrew M. Stephenson has published two novels: Nightwatch (1977), in which first contact is greatly complicated by the likelihood that World War III is about to break out, and the weighty The Wall of Years (1979). He has also published a number of short stories and more recently, a post-apocalyptic graphic novel Waterloo Sunset (serialized 2004–2005, published in dead-tree form in 2006). He’s still alive and I want more.
Back when the world was young and a ten megabyte hard drive required a team of six sturdy workers to move, P. J. Plauger quite reliably delivered to the world a story or so per year—memorable tales like “Wet Blanket” and “Child of All Ages,” stories that won him a Campbell for Best New Writer and a Hugo nomination for Best Short Story. Tragedy struck when he was enticed away from science fiction by the seedy world of Unix, which offered its arcane practitioners unnecessary luxuries like indoor living, food, and even health care. But while his output is much slower than it once was, it is not zero; the recent appearance of the chapbook Lucky Luke hints that perhaps he will deliver the full-length novel we expected forty years ago .
Doris Egan published the three novels of The Gate of Ivory fantasy trilogy—The Gate of Ivory, Two-Bit Heroes, and Guild-Edged Ivory—under her own name, and one—City of Diamond—under the pen name Jane Emerson. Since the 1990s, nothing. It might be (as it was with Plauger) that a more lucrative alternative presented itself. Egan is a screenwriter, producer, and director of television shows, some of which are themselves speculative fiction. Still, one can hope she might someday find time to dabble in novels again….
Elizabeth Willey wrote three gloriously baroque fantasies: The Well-Favored Man, and the duology prequel, A Sorcerer and a Gentleman, and The Price of Blood and Honor. All were part of her Kingdom of Argylle Trilogy. The first novel in particular, with its family of squabbling quasi-immortals, was enchanting. All three have come back into print after a generation of being out of print. It would be wonderful if more works, in Argylle or elsewhere, followed.
Readers, what about you? Which living authors do you wish would publish more? Tell us in comments.
(Off-limits: George R.R. Martin. I don’t want to hear it. He doesn’t want to hear it.)
Originally published March 2019.
In the words of Wikipedia editor TexasAndroid, prolific book reviewer and perennial Darwin Award nominee James Davis Nicoll is of “questionable notability.” His work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and Romantic Times as well as on his own websites, James Nicoll Reviews and Young People Read Old SFF (where he is assisted by editor Karen Lofstrom and web person Adrienne L. Travis). He is surprisingly flammable.